CAMPAIGNERS are delighted after it was announced a 'lifeline' bus service will be reinstated from this weekend.

The First bus company said from Saturday, July 6 the X53 Jurassic Coaster - which serves communities in east Devon and west Dorset - will be adding an earlier service.

The Saturday service will leave the Talbot Arms in Uplyme at 7.10am and travel via Lyme Regis, Bridport and Abbotsbury, arriving at Weymouth at 8.58am.

This is some two hours earlier than the current service which starts at Axminster rail station.

There was an earlier service on this route but it was scrapped in May as part of a network review which also saw the launch of a trial service of the X51 diverting via Martinstown and Winterbourne Steepleton. 

READ MORE: First Bus X51 trial service to Winterbourne Steepleton and Martinstown

This decision to remove the X53 early service was met with opposition from locals who rely on buses to make their commute to work.

In response to these concerns, the bus company said it would be reintroduced to the timetable until at least September.

A First Wessex spokesperson said: “Following customer feedback, we’ve reinstated an earlier journey on the X53 timetable on Saturdays to help people to get to work in Weymouth earlier.”

The transport lobby group, West Dorset Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG), has been campaigning to get an earlier service reinstated.

Bob Driscoll, chairman of West Dorset Western Area Transport Action GroupBob Driscoll, chairman of West Dorset Western Area Transport Action Group

Bob Driscoll, chairman of WATAG, welcomed the news, saying it would be a “lifeline” not just for local people but also for tourists who would like to experience a longer day out.

He said: “At this time of year, an earlier service is always useful. On a Saturday there may be tourists who may want to leave earlier to enjoy a full day out somewhere. It’s more important thought for local people who are relying on buses to get to work.

“We’re delighted that First Wessex took public feedback on board and were prepared to do something about it. We are all very pleased and that’s why we very much hope people will use the service so we can try and keep it going all year.”

The X53 service was previously at risk when First announced plans to withdraw the Sunday service. It was saved thanks to a donation by Bridport pensioner Alan Williams who also previously financed First's X53 service between Bridport and Weymouth in 2019.